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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

There's Something Wrong With Our Bloody Banks

Admiral Beatty remarked ruefully at the Battle of Jutland, as he watched 33% of his fleet blow up:

"There's something wrong with our bloody ships"

Today, the same can be said of our banks.

The Northern Rock debacle of 2007 was but a precursor to serious problems ahead for the banking industry in Britain that are manifesting themselves in 2008.

Leading the pack is Bradford & Bigley, whose share price has all but collapsed in the wake of terrible results, the resignation of the CEO and a botched rights issue.

The Times reports that the pricing of the original rights issue was based on March's accounts, for reasons unclear the bank chose not to (or was not able to) use the April figures in the original calculation. Once those were in the directors' hands the reality of the bank's parlous position hit home. So serious was it that the underwriters pointed a gun to the board, and threatened to dump the shares if they were saddled with them. Hence the board was forced to go cap in hand to TPG, and offer up 23% of the company.

Suffice to say the shareholders of B&B are "pissed off", to out it mildly.

To add the the woes of the banking industry, the Office of Fair Trading conducted a series of dawn raids at offices of Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) yesterday, as part of an investigation into price-fixing on loans to lawyers and accountancy firms.

The investigation and raids followed a voluntary approach to the OFT by Barclays, amid concerns that staff in its professional services banking group "had been approached from outside ... in an inappropriate manner".

There's something wrong with our bloody banks!

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